The Queen’s got bananas!
….. well the plants anyway
Were you up watching ITV’s Good Morning Britain before 8am this morning? If you were, you were in for a treat! If not, here is the link to watch the program.
Buckingham Palace opens to the public tomorrow for its ‘Summer Opening’ for just a few weeks a year over the summer. Visitors are treated, not just to a viewing of the inside of the palace, but to a short walk around the edge of the beautifully manicured lawn.
An interview with the Deputy Gardens Manager (7:40 if you are re-watching on ITV player) revealed a fruity secret that has been growing in the gardens this season. Hidden behind the rose beds, this year a banana plant has developed a flower! Small bananas can now be seen developing. Who knows if they will be edible?!
The exotic look
To add an exotic look to your herbaceous borders, banana plants can be planted for their wonderful foliage. Unfortunately, not every garden in the UK will be able to grow these structurally exciting plants, but the warmer climate that is found in London means that the banana plants will happily grow.
Where else can I see bananas growing?
Buckingham Palace is not alone in being able to grow banana plants in London. There are some rather fine specimens in the glasshouses at Kew, Wisley, and at Chelsea Physic Garden. Cornwall and the Channel Islands are also blessed with a banana-friendly climate, and the leafy fronds can be seen gracing many a Cornish garden.
The Largest bunch of bananas
The banana has superpowers! The largest bunch of bananas recorded fed a whole school! It weighed 130kg and was made up of 473 individual bananas. (www.rhs.org.uk)
What variety can I grow in the UK?
Musa basjoo, also known as the Japanese Banana, is the variety of banana you are most likely to find growing in the UK. If you want to have a go at growing bananas yourself, then you will really need a greenhouse, a loam-based compost such as a John Innes no3, and full light but shade from the sun when it is at its hottest. If, like the gardeners at Buckingham Palace you are in a warmer part of the UK, then plant the banana plant in humus-rich and well-drained soil in full sun.
- In the autumn cut off all of the leaves
After the first frost cut off all of the leaves; this will make the plant believe that it is moving into a dormant period.
- Wrap the plant in fleece
Tie the fleece securely, but make sure you are not damaging the plant.
- An additional wrap of hessian
To give our plant a little more protection, add an additional wrap of hessian.
- For colder climates
If you are concerned about your plant surviving the winter, create a chicken wire cage around your wrapped plant. Then fill the cage with straw. Finally, put a sheet of polythene over your entire covering and fix securely. This is to make sure that no rain can get in.
Having a go at growing bananas is such a fun idea; why not give it a go?
For a list of growers for mail order banana plants click here